Scott Wise has always wanted to brew his own beer—not a gallon or two at home, but in quantities large enough to satisfy
the thirsty hordes who flock to his Scotty’s Brewhouse restaurants.
Now it looks like he’ll get his wish.
The local entrepreneur is moving forward with plans to launch Scotty’s Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., a microbrewery that will produce craft beer for his eateries and the public. Wise filed its articles of incorporation with the state Tuesday.
Wise expects production to begin and an Indianapolis tasting room to open within six months.
“It has always been in my gut,” said Wise, 36. “It just makes sense to do it now.”
When he created Scotty’s in 1996, craft brewing was hot. Eight microbreweries opened in the state that year, according to the Brewers of Indiana Guild, joining the seven that had debuted in the previous decade. As a result, equipment was expensive—especially for a 22-year-old buying a bar on contract for $60,000.
Now the industry is experiencing a resurgence thanks to consumers’ growing interest in specialty brews. And used equipment is available, lowering the cost of entry.
Wise has worked out an arrangement with another startup brewer, Beer Baron LLC. The two entities plan to share equipment and retail space, but each will develop its own recipes and sell its own beer.
Former Barley Island Brewing Co. brewmaster Jon Lang is Beer Baron’s head brewer. The other partners are David Waldman, a former Irish pub owner who now is director of youth and outreach at JCC Indianapolis, and local restaurateur Mike DeWeese, who owned a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise and two independent eateries downtown before joining Granite City Brewing Co. last year.
Beer Baron, which is still working on a a brand name, bought equipment from now-shuttered Warbird Brewing in Fort Wayne, DeWeese said, and the partners are working with Wise to finalize a location for their joint facility.
“For me, it has always been about the beer,” DeWeese said. “The room for growth in Indiana is astronomical.”
Clay Robinson, who co-founded locally based Sun King Brewing Co., agrees.
“There is a lot of room for craft beer in Indiana,” said Robinson, who worked on Sun King for at least four years before opening the brewery in 2009. “The bottom line for any brewery is whether or not it makes good beer.”
An admitted control freak, Wise said he will take an active role in developing the recipe for the four or five styles of brew that will carry the Scotty’s name. He also has specific ideas for the tasting room: about 2,000 square feet of comfortably furnished space, open limited hours, that will sell a handful of Scotty’s appetizers in addition to beer.
“That’s just my style,” he said. “Anything I’m involved in gets 100 percent of my attention, especially when it has my name on it.”
Scotty’s Thr3e Wise Men—a nod to the founder and his two sons, Slater and Lincoln—will have built-in customers in Wise’s restaurants. He said the five Brewhouses alone will keep the kegs rolling. And having their own brewery will help the restaurants’ bottom line.
A keg of craft beer costs an average of $160, Wise said. He thinks he can brew the same amount of beer for about $40. Even with a markup to pay for production and transportation, the savings will add up. And if customers respond to the lower price by buying more, all the better.
“When you look at that across the board, it really snowballs,” Wise said.
Once the brewery and tasting room gets up and running, Wise wants to add a commissary kitchen where Scotty’s cooks can make cakes, pies, sauces and some popular dishes for all the restaurants in a central location, cutting labor costs and ensuring consistency.
Wise, who is set to debut the Scotty's Lakehouse restaurant concept March 1, already is working on bottling Scotty’s Mo-Fo Hot Sauce, and other favorites like Dill Chips also could be available at the commissary—or grocery stores—eventually.
“The beer comes first,” he said.